Change can rock our worlds, collapse our hearts, and leave us panting on the floor, awaiting grace to provide us a deep inhale without choking.
Sure, there’s the big, unexpected changes that leave us searching the corners of our lives for clues to where we are, who we are, and where this is all going. But with big changes, at least, we can point to them confidently saying, “See, this is what’s happening to me.” It doesn’t make them any easier, but at least we aren’t questioning our sanity. They are visible.
Even more disconcerting than these are the subtler changes that no one can see, least of all ourselves. Here there is no pointing to an object, saying, “This is why.” Instead, the change uncurls deep inside our gut somewhere. We’re caught off guard. We thought we knew; we thought we had a plan, a direction we were heading and goals written down. But, instead, we’re stopped short by a whisper, a thought, or an overwhelming emotion that says, “Not this way.” And we shakenly look around, “Who said that?”
It stops us in our tracks with no compass, no map, no familiar terrain. We’re left to traverse the rough ground by instinct alone, and even that is questionable. The desert analogy is not too far off. Lost and thirsty, we hope for a mirage, a place of comfort and relief. In a word, peace.
There is a way to navigate this great divide, but it’s not one we’re encouraged to take, nor is it comfortable. It’s the way of no sight. It requires quiet and often a withdrawal from our usual pursuits and people to hear a deeper desire. What makes this way so disconcerting is there is no time table, no syllabus when all will be revealed so we can “get on with it”, carve out a plan, and stretch back in our seats with a satisfied, “Done!” In the empty space there is no “done.” It’s simply waiting. Waiting for what is trying to speak to form words we can understand.
Traveling this path takes courage. We question our decisions (or no decision), our feelings, our future, and most assuredly, our sanity. But should we decide to take this leap of faith, we will be met with grace. When the time is right, we will gain an understanding of ourselves and what’s longing to be expressed through us at this time. Rest assured, it won’t be what we thought.
Till then, choose peace. Whatever that is for you in this moment. If parts of you seek comfort, give yourself true comfort – a swaddled blanket, a walk outside, a foot massage, a familiar movie and popcorn. Avoid the false comforts that lead you further away from yourself, like excessive drinking, eating, or anything else driven by desperation to leave the part of you that is afraid.
If part of you feels lonely, call a friend, seek out a hug or read a book by someone who can hold you with their words. Avoid false intimacy by reaching out to past lovers or finding new ones. This will only leave you feeling lonelier and further abandoned.
And when an idea occurs to you that feels “nice”, make a point of bringing it into your life. That could be going to coffee shop, window shopping, or just getting outside. The rational part of your mind that says, “I don’t have time for this” or “I don’t need this” doesn’t understand peace is the new priority. Peace equals safety. Safety equals curiosity. And curiosity equals revelation. Peace becomes our wayshower. Its guidance may seem senseless, but don’t let that stop you from following it for it will lead you to your next step.
But don’t seek peace hoping for answers. That will only make you crazy and desperate. Seek peace because it feels good. It’s loving yourself in the midst of uncertainty.
And that’s the only goal worth your time and effort while you traverse change’s terrain. In time, you’ll look back and see where you thought was once wilderness was actually a trail.
Living Through Uncertainty